Adam Berg held the flyer tightly in his hand and read over it one more time. He knew persuading Naomi would take some doing but what other choice did he have?
The marriage had been in trouble for a while and something needed to give or else it was doomed and soon. As a research scientist at the University in town, Adam had tried everything reasonable, studied, proven and purported by all kinds of sources known to humankind to get their love back on track. He had read all the books. Seen all the referred therapists. Now, it was simply time to try something new. To magically defy the gravity of the situation.
She walked in with groceries, set them down on the kitchen island and tossed her keys into the catch-all basket on the junk table next to the refrigerator.
“Phew! What a day.” Naomi Berg entered the house through the kitchen door, catching sight of Adam standing in the living room with the piece of paper in his hand.
“What’s that? Finally serving me with those divorce papers, huh,” she said sarcastically. She sauntered into the living room as Adam turned to face her more squarely.
“Very funny,” he said. “In fact, it’s a flyer about a retreat I thought we could try. One that I suggested last year….that you said no to then. But I thought you might reconsider?”
She took the piece of paper from his hand, reading aloud:
“The Lightness of Being,” she read the heading in bold, blue letters inside a puffy, pink cloud. She looked up at Adam. He was staring with wide eyes and an eager grin.
“Wasn’t that a book? By that Czech writer, yeah, what was his name…I read it back in the 80s,” she started.
“No. It’s not about that. Keep reading,” he said tersely, hoping for the best. She read it silently to herself, now.
Levitation Retreat May 5 – 8
Spend three days with us in the spiritual vortex of desert red rock and learn to fly in the face of gravity, let go of inhibitions, heal your wounds and unpack the heavy baggage for good. And yes! Learn the ancient practice of physical levitation!
Naomi looked up from the piece of paper again and said to Adam, “You’re joking, right?”
Adam shook his head No then motioned to Naomi to keep reading. She stared at him with a smirk for another moment for emphasis before continuing to read. Aloud again.
“Levity Retreat Center, Shiloh-la
All workshops, meals and lodging included in the price.
See website for details”
Adam was nearly leaning into her in anticipation of her response now, his sandy brown hair falling softly across his forehead.
“What are you doing, trying to imitate the Tower of Pisa or something?” Naomi asked.
He’d fallen in love with her sense of humor when they first met and it remained one of her best qualities, in his eyes, to this day. He straightened up and smiled at her, saying nothing, just waiting for more. He knew there would be more.
“Ok, look, Adam. First of all, this is the silliest flyer I’ve ever seen, I mean, come on, the graphics are terrible, first of all,” she said. And she would know since she was a partner in a very successful graphic design firm downtown. She had spent her entire career in color and shape and form-follows-function.
Because Adam continued to look through his bright blue eyes at her in silence, she felt compelled to continue with her commentary.
“Second of all, I do remember you trying to sell this one to me last year. What makes you think I’m gonna change my mind now?”
Breaking his silence, Adam lost his grin and put it to her in all seriousness.
“Because Naomi. I still have hope. Hope for us. Why can’t you just be open to it? I’m the goddamn scientist, for Chrissakes. I’m the one who should be skeptical, not you,” he said. “I’m willing to give it a try. I mean really, Naomi. What choice do we have?” he asked, hoping he wouldn’t have to keep trying to wear her down to get a Yes from her.
“You’re serious, aren’t you. About this, I mean,” she said, waving the flyer in the air. When he didn’t answer, because he felt it was obvious just how serious he was, she looked down at the flyer, reading it over one more time to herself.
“How much is it, anyway?” she asked.
Adam cracked a smile. And he knew the door was cracked open just a little bit, too.
Naomi Eisen bumped into Adam’s life on a rainy afternoon years ago when they were both hurrying to get indoors to attend a Y2K informational lecture at a downtown hotel.
“Oh, sorry, after you,” he had said to her when they both approached the revolving door at the same moment.
Naomi immediately thought to herself, what a handsome man, gave him one of her prize-winning smiles, thanked him, then stopped inside the lobby to remove her coat. And to see where he was heading. When it became obvious that he was going where she was going, she quickened her pace to catch up with him again.
“Sorry. I didn’t mean to get in your way back there…you want to sit together? My friend Josie was supposed to come with me then backed out at the last minute. I like having someone to compare notes with. During the presentation,” she blurted out all at once, boldly.
Adam wasn’t about to say no to this beautiful redhead walking beside him so the two ended up sitting together for the lecture. Then at the hotel bar for another two hours after. “Comparing notes.” Exchanging biographies. Clinking glasses filled with scotch on the rocks. It was raining outside, after all, and neither felt a pull to go back to work, nor were they expected anywhere.
“I don’t know,” Naomi started. “If you ask me, it’s all just a bunch of hype and worry over nothing. The powers that be just like to put us all on edge once in a while. Keep an upper hand,” she said.
“Well, that’s healthy skepticism. And I basically agree. So…. Why are we both here, then? Why did we come to this gratuitous lecture, if that’s what we think?” he asked, with a laugh.
“To meet each other, I reckon,” Naomi said, as she swiveled her barstool around, stood, grabbed her purse and excused herself to freshen up in the ladies room.
Adam was watching her walk away and she knew it. She turned back to smile at him just before turning the corner and disappearing out of sight. He rolled the ice around in his glass, took the last sip of watered-down Scotch and pondered his next move with this woman. She was sassy, assertive, confident. And so beautiful. She would be wise to all the tricks in the book. By the time she returned with a fresh swath of red lipstick, he still hadn’t figured it out.
“Want to grab some dinner? I know a great Thai place on Market Street,” she proposed. “We could walk, looks like the rain let up.”
It had been a long travel day. The couple woke at the crack of dawn and caught the subway to the airport only to learn that their departure would be delayed by at least two hours. Grabbing coffees, they settled into seats at their gate, Adam with a newspaper and Naomi scrolling her mobile, fading into their own worlds. When boarding finally rolled around, they were suddenly aware of each other again, double checking for tickets, queuing up with the other passengers, shuffling onto the plane. Once settled into their seats, they received word of another delay from the pilot. Naomi looked at Adam and rolled her eyes.
“Great start,” she said, reaching into her shoulder bag for her book.
Adam wasn’t apologetic, it wasn’t his fault, after all. He remained optimistic for the long weekend ahead, still hoped for the best possible outcome for healing their marriage wounds. This retreat would be just the salve they needed, he was sure of it. He unfolded his newspaper again and sunk in for the long haul.
Arriving at the airport, Adam and Naomi were worn out but happy to be off the plane and in a short line for their rental car. The retreat center was an hour away and they were eager to get the final leg behind them, unpack and relax. Maybe even squeeze in a soak in the hot tub before dinner, Adam thought, though he would not suggest it to Naomi until the right moment presented itself.
Behind the wheel now, en route, Adam made easy banter to ease the stresses of the day.
“Hey, I was looking at the retreat center’s website yesterday and I was perusing the menu…” Adam started but Naomi interrupted.
“Oh, you don’t think I vetted that out before I agreed to this, Adam?” she asked.
Naomi had been a vegetarian most of her adult life and she was in the habit of scouring menus ahead of time, something Adam never needed to do. She was surprised he even bothered to check.
“Oh, I get it,” she said. “You knew the meals are all vegetarian there because it’s a spiritual center so you were worried the food would be disappointing to your carnivorous sensibilities, huh?”
“No. I was just making sure for you. Well, ok, yeah, probably more worried about myself on that one,” he admitted with a laugh.
“Say, you know what?” he continued, “I feel pretty grungy from the day. What do you say we pull down one of these dirt roads and do a quick change of clothes? I don’t want to look too unpresentable when we arrive,” he said.
“Adam. They’re all hippies where we’re going. Everyone’s probably wrapped in unbleached raiment, wandering around barefoot. Ya think they care what we look like?” Naomi said snidely.
“They’re not hippies, Naomi,” he said dryly.
“Just because they engage in esoteric practices doesn’t mean they won’t notice how we look,” he continued. “Come on. Don’t be so biased. Have an open mind. Try to make the most of this, huh? Next pull-off I see, I’m taking it.”
When a winding dirt road became visible up ahead a few minutes later, Adam did just that, turning off the main roadway and driving a half mile or so out of sight, parking near an outcropping of rock and saguaro cacti. He turned off the car engine and hopped out of the car into the balmy late afternoon under a wide-open sky. Doing a few quick stretches, he watched Naomi slowly pour herself out of the car with her water bottle in hand, unscrew the top and take a few swigs.
“Wow. It’s warm,” she said, screwing the lid to her bottle back on and taking in the desolate surroundings.
“I guess I’ll strip down to something more comfortable, too. Since we’re doing that,” she said.
Adam walked to the rear of the car and opened the trunk with the key, zipped open his duffle bag looking for a fresh t-shirt and a pair of shorts. Naomi joined him at the rear of the car, opened her suitcase and found a loose-fitting dress and a pair of sandals.
“I feel more relaxed already!” Adam said, turning to Naomi and taking her shoulders into his hands.
“It’s gonna be great, Nay, just wait and see. I promise,” he said, noting her resigned and exhausted demeanor.
“Here, hold this,” she said, shoving her water bottle into his chest and sitting on the edge of the trunk to take her shoes off. Peeling off her sweatpants and denim shirt, she tossed them over her shoulder into the trunk. She stood to pull the dress on over her head then sat again to strap her sandals on and tie her loose hair into a ponytail. Adam had wandered off down the path to loosen his limbs a bit more.
“Yeah. You’re right,” she yelled to Adam. “This is much better.”
She knew he was right about the other stuff, too. That she needed to open her mind to the possibilities of the weekend ahead, let go of the sarcasm, not be so set in her opinions and judgements. That would take a few more hours at least to shed, she knew. Adam was ambling back to the car as she was finishing up. Stopping in front of her, he pulled out a joint from his pocket and held it in front of her face with a grin.
“Lookie what I have!” he said. “Wanna have a quick hit together before we push on?”
“Well, look at you. You really are ready to blow this weekend wide open, huh,” she laughed. “Sure, why not. But just one hit. It’s been a long time, we don’t want to be too wild when we arrive, right?”
“Oh. We have plenty of time. We’re just about twenty minutes away. We can hang here for a bit and chill. Besides, if they’re all hippies there as you say, we’ll fit right in.”
Adam lit up the joint and took a short hit, coughing a bit and laughing, he handed the joint to Naomi. She took an even smaller hit with tight lips then a quick nose hit from the swirl of smoke rising off the burning joint before handing it back to him.
“Be careful with that, Adam. It’s been some years since we did this sort of thing,” she said, winking at him.
The truth of the matter, though, for Adam, was that he had been occasionally indulging since it became legal in their state and life had become increasingly heavy with his wife. It was no big deal for him, just a recreational endeavor with his younger colleagues at the lab if they got together after work for a beer. Just a little thing when the mood struck or the opportunity came his way. He would keep that secret from his wife for now, he decided. They had secrets, sure. They both knew it. And what was wrong with that, anyway. Don’t all couples do that to preserve their singular identity, he thought.
Adam took another short hit and stubbed out the joint on a rock and slipped it back into his pocket. They hugged playfully, sharing in this unusual moment in their stagnant marriage. Naomi sat back on the edge of the open trunk again and watched as a billow of puffy clouds broke apart, shape shifting from one form to another. A sense of limitless and inevitable change came over her in that brief second. She sighed softly.
“Let’s take a walk over there for a minute. Stretch out a bit, huh?” Adam suggested.
Naomi jumped up from her perch, turned to close the trunk and skipped over to where Adam was standing, grinning, happy to see a lightness of being come over his wife. He grabbed her hand and they started down the dirt road together on an easy stroll.
“That’s such a funny story, baby. I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time, oh my…oh. So funny…Adam, what is it?” Naomi asked.
Adam’s face had changed in an instant as they got closer to their rental car. One minute they were laughing hysterically together and then it was as if he’d seen a ghost.
“Uh. The key. The key to the car,” was all he said.
“What about the key, Adam?”
“Well, in my haste to change clothes. Uh. Right after I opened the trunk, I threw the keys in to free myself up to open my duffle and, I guess, I left them there. And, uh…”
“And I closed the trunk when we left for our walk,” Naomi finished his sentence for him, slapping her hands on her thighs.
The two looked at each other hoping the other one would have a quick solution. Or at least a “Don’t worry, I’ve got this” but neither of them uttered that phrase. They just kept looking at each other.
“Ok. Let me take care of this, uh, I can uh,” Adam said, pacing a bit then hustling towards the car. Oddly, he had left the driver side window open enough to reach in and unlock the door. As he opened it, Naomi became unfrozen from the spot where he had left her standing seconds before. As she got to the car, Adam had opened all the doors and was moving stuff around in the back seat as if in search of something. A spare key? What? Naomi wondered.
“Adam. What are you thinking, what are you doing right now?” she asked.
“I don’t know. But I think I can maybe, just maybe squeeze my hand through the rear seat cushion and into the trunk. If so…” he said as he started manhandling the back seat and sliding his hand through the crevice of space between the seat and the back cushions.
“Wait, Adam. Don’t wreck the seats, we’ll have to pay for that…” Naomi said, sticking her head into the car from the front passenger side of the car as she watched him caught up in frenetic pursuit of the keys.
“How do you even know which side of the trunk the keys landed?” she asked.
“I’m pretty sure, well, I was standing on the left side of the trunk so I’m pretty sure…” he was grunting now with the effort to gain a grasp of something through the seats and into the trunk. Suddenly, his arm slid through well enough to feel his duffle bag. He was practically up to his armpit by now with his right arm through and his left hand pulling and tugging back the seat.
“Don’t get stuck, baby!” Naomi warned.
Suddenly, he yelled out.
“Got ‘em! Got ‘em! I’ve got the keys! There they are, oh my god! I can just barely reach, I can feel em…” he yelled triumphantly.
“Are you serious? You really got ‘em, Adam!”
He was sliding his arm out and once free of the man-eating back seat, dangled them in front of her face and laughed with glee. “Got ‘em!”
They both were dancing around the car now, so relieved they would not be sleeping on this dusty desert road tonight. Naomi skipped back over to the car to assess the damage done, peering into the back seat, all the car doors still wide open. All Adam could see was her bottom half until she climbed back out to report that the back seat didn’t look so hot.
“We’re gonna pay for that little mistake. But. At least we’re not stuck here and that’s all that matters, I guess,” she said.
Adam walked over to her and leaned into the car and started pushing at the back seat, trying to make it look like itself again.
“Well. That’s the best I can do. We’ll have to deal with that later,” he said. Naomi nodded in agreement.
They gathered themselves together, shaking it off, got back into the car and headed down the dirt road to the main highway. Adam turned the radio on and found a good station to carry them along the rest of the way. The effects of the joint had worn off for the most part, the immediacy of their emergency inducing a tenor of sobriety. Back on the road, they listened in silence to the upbeat tune of an old Toots and the Maytals song. Naomi was swaying to the reggae beat as Adam tapped the steering wheel.
“Oh, damn,” Adam suddenly said.
“That was really stupid, oh damn.”
“Adam. What? Did you forget something back there? What?” Naomi asked impatiently.
“Well. I was just noticing something. Dammit. You’re not gonna believe this. Damn,” he said again.
Now she was staring at Adam. Waiting. She wasn’t going to ask another time.
Adam glanced over at Naomi with a sheepish smirk, then returned his eyes to the road.
“The whole time….We didn’t, I didn’t need to wrench that back seat and stick my arm through…the whole time,” he said again and then stopped as if preparing his punchline in good measure.
“Look,” he said, pointing to the lower left side of the driver’s seat.
Naomi leaned forward and shook her head, unable to see it, unclear on what he was getting at.
“Here,” he said. “This! The lever! The quick-release lever to pop open the trunk!” he said with an incredulous laugh, waiting for Naomi’s reaction.
“Oh, are you kidding me? We could have just…What the hell! Why didn’t either one of us think of that?!” she said.
Suddenly they both burst into laughter. What else could they do, but laugh? And analyze their foolishness for the next ten minutes. Ask repeatedly why they failed to think of that easy solution. We were stoned? Uh, we have a hatchback and never use a trunk release lever so it just wasn’t in our consciousness? It was hidden from sight? They bandied about the speculations and theories and concluded that it was because they hyper-reacted to the situation instead of stopping, considering, taking a breath and really thinking before acting.
“Geez, Adam. Haven’t you learned anything in your Tuesday night yoga class?” she ribbed.
At least they were both laughing about it. Most of the time they got into arguments over this sort of thing. Yep, these days, these past few years, it was a blame game. A one-up, tug of war about who was right and who was wrong. Adam and Naomi both, in their silent reverie as they approached the turn off to the retreat center, recognized this subtle shift and each were quietly grateful for it.
Shiloh-la was a dusty little town with a tiny main street against a backdrop of towering red rock and big sky. A general store. A two-pump gas station. A couple of old-timers leaning against an old Ford pick-up truck. An old hound dog resting in the shade. High desert. Low action. They looked for signage for the road to the retreat center, as the website had advised. Naomi sighted it first, directing Adam to turn left off the town road. A long, narrow dirt road took them deeper into the desert dotted with stunning rock formations and giant cactus trees for three miles before they began to see the markings of civilization again.
Pulling into the parking area of the retreat center, Adam heaved a sigh of relief. It had been a long day and his hopes for the weekend had been building since they left home so early that morning. Turning off the engine, he looked over at Naomi and smiled at her as he hammed up his reach for the release lever for the trunk. She laughed and rolled her eyes.
“Magic,” she said.
Climbing out of the car they gathered up their things and headed for the French doors, open and welcoming, leading into the reception area of the main lodge. Entering through the doors, a commingling of incense and freshly baked, still warm chocolate chip cookies filled their senses as they made their way towards a pristinely beautiful young woman dressed in all white, a tremendous wrapping of light brown dreadlocks resting in an immense spiral atop her head. She looked up and in that instant her face lit up from within.
“Welcome,” she said softly.
“Hello. How are you,” Adam said, setting their bags to the floor.
The young woman nodded in her glistening presence.
“We’re checking in today?” Adam offered. “The Berg’s.”
After looking at her computer, the young woman smiled and looked at them both with deep eye contact, reached into her desk and set a key down, sliding it across the counter towards Adam.
“Naomi. Adam. You are in the Enlightenment Cabin. Go back out the door and turn right, walk up the hill and at the juncture, turn right again. Your cabin will be directly in front of you. Here is a map of the grounds.
And some information about your retreat schedule. Dinner is from six to eight. I’m Chandra. If you need anything, just let me know,” she said and flashed a big, bright smile revealing a row of perfect teeth and sexy dimples set inside a cream and dusty rose palette.
Naomi nudged Adam with her foot to break him from the love spell this woman seemed to have over him. He looked over at Naomi then back to Chandra, picked up the key and thanked her.
Falling into their room exhausted, they tested out the bed. Perfect. Naomi scoped out the bathroom and turned on the shower to check the water pressure. Perfect. Adam pulled back the curtain on the window across from the bed to reveal a gorgeous view of red rock. Again. Perfect. Naomi doesn’t have much ammunition to criticize, he thought, and scanned her face for internal dialogue. She seemed surprisingly copacetic.
“Want to go take a soak before dinner?” he asked.
Arriving at the mineral pools, they had the place surprisingly to themselves.
“Everyone must be getting ready for dinner?” Naomi said.
A series of small pools encircled a centered larger pool. Adam slipped into what he surmised to be the least hot of the pools based on the levels of steam rising and he guessed well. Naomi ventured over to a sign explaining the layout.
“The two pools to the north and east of center are the cooler pools, the two pools to the south and west are the hottest. The center and largest, or Goldilocks Pool, is in the middle and most palatable to most people,” she read, turning around to see Adam already up to his neck in bliss.
“Not wasting any time, hey babe?” she said as she wandered over to him, removing her robe to reveal herself in a black one-piece.
Slipping off her flip-flops, she entered using the steps into the pool and rested into the relaxing waters directly across from Adam. His eyes were closed as the jets gently massaged his lower back. Naomi closed her eyes too, letting the healing waters soothe her soul. Maybe this won’t be so bad, after all, she thought.
The soak had made them both hungry and a little sleepy but they managed the short saunter back to their cabin, got dressed and walked over to the main lodge for dinner. Chandra was at the front desk engaged in a mellow chat with two handsome and very fit young men leaning on the counter. The large, open dining room was set up in buffet style and was about a third full of people of all ages and types, mostly seated cross-legged on the floor. There was one large, round dining table that was fully occupied. Big, square cushions were stacked neatly against one wall. Adam looked at Naomi and reading her surprise, he rubbed her arm.
“Looks like we’re sitting on the floor, babe. You ok with that?” he asked.
Adam had been doing yoga pretty regularly for years so he was accustomed to and comfortable with the idea but Naomi, less flexible in body and mind, was what concerned him at the moment.
“I’m fine. Let’s go get in line,” she said, not wanting to draw too much attention to the differences in their comfort zones too soon.
The presentation of food at the buffet was both enticing and beautiful. And for certain, the healthiest food for miles around. They piled their plates with lentil loaf and mushroom gravy, sesame ginger soba noodles, organic greens and vegan cornbread, grabbed some cushions and found a place to perch well within view of the whole room but separate enough to feel privacy. They both said several times to each other how delicious the food was and how great everything was going so far. Adam suggested he get them a plate to share from the dessert table, leaving Naomi alone on their cushioned lair.
When he returned, carrying a plate of chocolate brownies with cashew cream, a ramakin of apricot-lemon custard, a slice of blackberry pie and a few fresh figs and almonds, he found Naomi cavorting with a middle-aged man with a graying blonde topknot and beard.
“Oh, hello,” Adam said as he approached them. He handed Naomi the plate with two forks and sat back down on his cushion next to the stranger.
“I’m Adam,” he said, holding out his hand, “Naomi’s husband.”
“Blessings,” he said, placing his hand into Adam’s. “Zain. Pleasure to make your acquaintance.”
Zain displayed a beatific smile and presence and as Adam let go of his hand, he felt a warmth tingle up his arm and into his chest.
“I was just telling Naomi a little about our piece of the world here at Levity. Have you met Baba yet?” he said, turning back to Naomi.
“Baba? Um. No. Well, we just got here about an hour ago,” she said, a bit perplexed with what or who Baba might be.
“You will. He usually makes an appearance during Saturday mid-day meal,” Zain shared.
And with that, he rose gracefully from the floor, pressed his palms together, bowed to them both and took his leave, padding across the floor barefoot and lithe, moving like a man half his age.
Adam turned to Naomi, watching her watching Zain cross the room and disappear through the doors.
“What did you and Zain talk about while I was gone,” he said, taking one of the forks from her and digging into the delightful plate sitting on the floor between them.
“Hmm? Oh, I don’t know. He just came over to say Hi, is all. Said he didn’t want me to feel alone. I told him I didn’t feel alone but he sat down anyway and, I dunno, I can’t really remember what we talked about, now. Friendly guy. Kind of new-agey, I’d say. But nice,” she added.
Putting a forkful of pie into her mouth and rolling her eyes in bliss, she chewed slowly savoring every bit, swallowed and turned to Adam.
“What the heck do ya think is in the water here? I mean, everyone is so blissed out,” she laughed.
“I don’t know. But we were just soaking in it!” he laughed.
They spent the rest of dessert observing other guests and playing a little game they used to play when they were first dating and out and about for hours together around the city. Assigning made-up names and invented lives to people passing by, they would create complete life story lines for each stranger. It was a creative game that helped them get to know each other’s view of the world. Now, here, it was bringing a closeness back into the light of their relationship for the first time in a long while.
“I’m exhausted, aren’t you?” Adam asked Naomi, as the dining room started to empty out, clearing of guests and buffet steam tables.
“Yes. And very pleasantly full and content,” Naomi answered. “Let’s head back to the cabin.”
“Do you think Baba is the teacher?” Naomi asked Adam as they got themselves together to head to their first workshop the next morning.
“No. I don’t think so. Unless he has two names. It said on the website, the workshops were taught by a ‘Pradeep’ and a ‘Dove’,” Adam said, “Here, it’s on one of the handouts Chandra gave us yesterday,” he added, reaching into the outer pocket of his day pack.
“Pradeep and Dove, huh,” she said as she took the paper from his hand.
“Don’t start, Nay. You’ll never get off the ground with that attitude.”
“Ok, ok. Just sayin’. Did you pack my water? Or am I supposed to exist on air, like a Breatharian?” she joked.
“C’mon. Let’s go. It’s almost seven.”
They had been instructed to have only tea prior to the morning workshop and had woken just early enough to shower and dress. The two made their way to the Great Room, down a path past the soaking pools at the west end of the property. They noticed three hiking paths off the main walkway and agreed to check them out at some point during their stay. Entering the workshop space, they grabbed a couple cushions and blankets and set themselves up in the third row, behind others sitting quietly on the floor in meditation.
A turbaned and bearded man sat on a raised altar in front of them, also deeply entranced.
Naomi tried following suit but found herself opening one eye every few seconds to peek at what was going on around her. Adam seemed completely at home in this environment and she couldn’t help but feel a discomfort about her discomfort. Why can’t I just let go, she wondered, just go with the flow, as they say. Whoever they are. I can be they too, can’t I. Not on the outside of things. Let me just try…her mind was wandering all over the place.
Before she could attempt to get still, a giant gong sounded three times. It gave her a little start. Everyone around her was opening their eyes, including Adam. How do they know that’s what the gong means, she wondered. She shifted in her seat, searching for the perfect placement on her cushion. Catching Adam watching her from the corner of his eye, she smiled and he winked at her. Encouraging her to just be cool.
Naomi was four years older than Adam and in their younger days that translated as something different. She was the more experienced one, the teacher, the guide. Now it was as though she was a child who needed her hand held, shown the way. Or too ancient to “get with it.”
Adam had been less experienced back then, yes, but he was the experiential one. The one who really lived life and felt everything, learned by doing. She would just need to surrender to him, to this, if she was going to get through the weekend. And possibly through the rest of her life with him. It was a choice, she knew that. It was just becoming more evident in the past twenty-four hours, is all.
After three enveloping, resonant chants of OM by the group gathered in the room, the man at the front of the room finally spoke.
“Welcome. I am Pradeep. I will be your escort on this journey,” he said.
Naomi cocked her head towards Adam, raised her eyebrows and waited for affirmation of her cynicism. He just nodded and looked forward.
“First. We will be learning some traditional chants – sounds really, intonations, to cleanse our bodies of the debris that weighs us down. Then we will sit in silence for twenty minutes to open more space internally to receive spirit,” he began.
“Twenty minutes!” Naomi whispered under her breath but loud enough for Adam to hear. He didn’t budge.
“You will hear the Golden Gong three times and that is your cue to bring your attention back to your breath. I will then lead you in a Pranayama exercise and we will enter our second meditation.”
Naomi nudged Adam with her elbow but he ignored her, intent on hearing every word of Pradeep’s.
“Each workshop, we will advance our Pranayama practice, increase the length of our meditations and engage in Satsang. This is all in preparation for our final workshop in which we will attempt levitation! Today. We are just beginning. We are clearing out, making space, taking steps towards a lightness of being for the big event on Monday,” he said, releasing a little titter of a laugh.
A few people clapped. Others made barely audible sounds of gratitude and anticipation. Most remained still and quiet. As did Adam.
Naomi didn’t know what Pradeep was talking about but was sure she would find out from Adam later and that she should remain quiet for now or he would become irritated with her. Just then, she felt eyes on her and turning to look over her right shoulder, saw Zain sitting erect and serene, looking straight at her with a knowing smile.
After a light breakfast, the couple headed back to their room to plan the rest of their day. A second workshop was scheduled for three p.m. and Naomi was feeling a bit lost and overwhelmed by it all already. Adam could sense her uneasiness and suggested they go for a short hike.
Grabbing an apple and their waters and placing them into his daypack, he waited for Naomi to put on her hiking boots.
“Ready?” he prompted.
“Yep. Let’s do it. I really need this after all that sitting,” she added.
“Nay. It’s not ‘sitting.’ It’s meditating,” Adam said.
“No, Adam. It’s ‘clearing out space to receive spirit.’ don’t ya know,” she said and they both laughed.
“Come on. Quit making fun of it. Just stay open, ok?”
“Oh, I am,” she said. “I’m so open, my insides are gonna fall out,” she laughed.
“Oh, I doubt that. Let’s go have a nice walk. Have some lunch after and just let the day unfold, ok? I’m excited for the afternoon workshop. I hope you are, too. For now, let’s just take in this magnificent landscape,” Adam said, and off they went.
They took the first of three hiking paths they had espied earlier as the warm morning began to give way to full-on heat. Hugging deeper into the earthiness of the land, they stopped at an outcropping of towering red rock and sat on a boulder to have some water. Adam felt something come over him and reached over to take his wife’s face into his hands and drew her in for an enduring kiss.
“Wow. What was that for,” she said, coming up for air.
“Just you. I love you. Thanks for coming here with me,” Adam said.
Naomi smiled, a bit surprised by his sudden display of affection. They had been talking about their work projects and sharing ideas about the future of their careers, bantering easily with each other about life. Nothing personal specific to their relationship had come up, just an easy exchange of ideas. They were stowing away the weight of those concerns for now. There would be time for that later.
“Ah. We’d better head back, it’s almost time for lunch service. I can’t wait to see what they’re dishing up today!” Adam said, putting his cell phone back in his pack after checking the time.
Naomi spotted Zain across the room sitting with two young women and, coming out of the buffet line ahead of Adam, decided to take the initiative to join them, Adam would have no choice but to follow. She was becoming intrigued with him and wanted to connect a little more. There was no reason she and Adam should be exclusive and separatist here with all these people, she figured.
“Hey, Zain. Mind if we join you?” she asked, standing with her plate of food.
“It would be our pleasure,” he said, with a broad smile.
As she sat, making room for Adam, Zain introduced the two young women as Alina and Chiara, two natural beauties with flowing hair and eyes filled with light. Naomi and Adam learned that all three of them lived and worked at the retreat center, eschewing the trappings of “real” jobs and responsibilities of the outside world in exchange for a simpler existence. Zain was the resident handyman and had been there for eighteen years with no designs on leaving anytime soon.
“Are you enjoying your time here at Levity?” Zain inquired.
“It’s different,” Naomi said, casting a quick glance towards Adam.
“We’re enjoying it for sure,” Adam added. “We have been wanting to come here for a couple years and finally made it!” he said.
Naomi shot a look his way, puzzled by his statement that wasn’t exactly the truth. He always seeks acceptance, she thought. That’s just how he is.
Just then, a loud thundering sound filled the room and a crowd of guests who had been seated on the floor jumped to their feet and appeared to be surrounding some sort of gale force moving across the dining room.
Adam and Naomi were both gawking in curiosity to see what all the fuss was about, Naomi voicing her question out loud to Zain.
“That’s Baba,” he said.
Alani and Chiara were unfazed and continued sipping on their teas without so much as a turn to look. Suddenly there was a loud thud as the fanatical group fell to the floor to reveal the mysterious Baba, now seated in a throne-like chair. He was a wisp of a man, all of about five feet tall, thin and wiry with black hair tied up in a topknot. Dressed in a white robe, he couldn’t have weighed-in at more than ninety pounds. A few of the devotees were touching and kissing his bare feet. Others stared up in adulation.
“That’s Baba?” Naomi asked.
“Wait. Who is Baba, again?” Adam inquired, feeling a bit out of the loop.
“Baba Hanuman Prabhā Dass, our resident guru, the founder of Levity,” Zain said. “Our teacher.”
Adam gave Zain a blank stare.
“You see, Baba means person of wisdom. Hanuman is the elephant god, the remover of obstacles. Prabhā means radiant and illuminating. And Dass means loving servant of God.”
“What’s that hanging around his neck, resting on his chest?” Adam asked.
Without needing to turn and look, Zain simply answered, “That’s his slate.”
Naomi and Adam looked at each other wondering who was going to ask the question they were both wondering. Naomi looked back to Zain.
“Ok. What’s a slate?”
“His slate. It’s a chalkboard. It’s how he expresses his thoughts. Or answers questions from his followers. He hasn’t spoken for twenty-seven years. A vow of silence, you know what I mean?” Zain explained.
“What!” Naomi blurted out. She had less of a filter than most people, a trait that Adam found both admirable and embarrassing.
Zain just smiled. The other two women remained silent, caught up in their own reverie and not the least bit interested in Adam and Naomi’s naiveté. Maybe they have taken a vow of silence, too, Naomi thought.
“I can’t imagine not speaking for twenty-seven seconds, much less twenty-seven years,” Naomi said, and Adam chuckled, knowing her tendency for loquaciousness all too well.
“Try it sometime. You might discover something new,” he said.
Zain and the two women made a move to leave, needing to attend to some work and other activities, he explained.
“Well. Have a lovely day. I hope it’s everything you hope for and more,” Zain said, pressing his palms together with a slight bow, he briskly pivoted and walked towards the doorway, the two women scurrying off behind him.
Setting their empty plates aside, the couple compared notes on Baba, Zain and the two young women, then expanded to the group of devotees who had fallen to Baba’s feet and other onlookers seated around the room, discussing the varied group’s looks, their attire, their vibes, their intentions. They were trying to contain their laughter over the stereotypes that seemed to be bursting in abundance all around them; hippies, new-age types, Boomers and Buddhists.
Middle-aged white women in flowing saris co-opting another culture light years away from their upbringings. Skinny young vegan men effortlessly sitting in the lotus position while they nibbled like birds at their sparsely filled plates. Limber and perfected yogini specimens floating across the room. Bearded men – Zain templates – standing off to the sides, deeply engaged in one-on-one conversations. The elder generation seemed to hold court at the big round table, apparently not comfortable to sit on the floor anymore. Or perhaps having literally and reverently earned their seat at the table.
There were young families with barefooted, mop-top children running around freely expressing themselves. It seemed to Adam and Naomi they must be residents, too, escaping the poverty line and thriving in a spiritual community instead. Artists. Writers, maybe. Organic gardeners. Yoga teachers. Who knows. Hardly anyone resembled Naomi and Adam, an observation that she had already noted. Are we really that much different when it comes right down to it, she wondered.
Adam and Naomi were enjoying themselves, making light of the scene unfolding before them. Not judging, just pondering, really. The paths chosen in lives so different from their own. It was curiosity more than anything. An opportunity to explore and consider other ways to live. They were engaged themselves, now, in deep conversation. Comparing notes. Seeing things in a new light. Possibility. Expansiveness. The couple had settled down into observant silence. Try it sometime, you might discover something new, Zain had said.
Suddenly a thunderous roar exploded across the room as Baba Hanuman Prabhā Dass stood and his entourage enveloped him again in a blanket of devotion as he abruptly and swiftly exited the room. Finished with his enlightenment session for the day, apparently.
“Phew,” Adam said. “He’s a whirlwind of energy. How does a little man like that command such a presence and audience?”
“What? How does a little man like that make so much noise when he walks across a room!” Naomi said and turning to Adam she leaned into him to whisper.
“Seems to me, Adam, he needs that Lightness of Being workshop more than we do!” she said, and the two burst into laughter again.
Back at their cabin after the afternoon workshop, the couple were resting on their bed, letting it all seep in.
“I like that song part of the workshop,” Naomi said.
“Song? What song? The chanting, you mean?” Adam asked.
“No, not that. The discussion part…the song thing, whatever,” she said.
“Oh! You mean the Satsang!” he said, as it dawned on him what she was trying to say.
“Ok. Sot Song, whatever. Like, what people do when they drink too much or something? Spill their guts to the bartender, like that?” she laughed. “How do you know this stuff, anyway. What all of this is?”
Adam was still laughing about her sot song idea.
“Um. Well, Alison, my first yoga teacher. She used to begin class like that sometimes, ya know, to see if there is anything we want to share about our lives. She said we hold stuff in our bodies and it affects how we move. Saying stuff out loud, acknowledging it to others unblocks it.”
“Oh, yeah. Alison. Whatever happened to her? Why did you change teachers, anyway?” Naomi asked.
“Oh, I don’t know,” Adam said as he abruptly stood up. “Come on. Let’s go hike one of those other trails we saw, want to?”
Walking down the main path past where they had hiked the first time, the couple turned down the farthest path of the three. The trail was much steeper, the terrain more rugged and open and dry. They had brought plenty of water but were still stopping a lot to hydrate. The trail hugged the ridge of a canyon displaying big spires and hoodoos in a red rock dreamscape. Adam and Naomi were so taken with the beauty they just kept going and going.
“Nay, let’s take a break over here in the shade and rest. I don’t think we should go much farther, do you? Don’t forget we still need to hike back,” he said.
“Sure, sure. You’re right,” she said.
They sat and Adam pulled an energy bar out of his pack for them to share, handing it to Naomi as he unscrewed the cap to his water bottle.
“I loved that thing Pradeep said earlier today. How we absorb each other’s energy. What was it, something like ‘we are each other’s food’?” Naomi said.
“Yeah. The part about drinking purified water vs. alcohol? Some people give us clean energy and others make us groggy and heavy. Huh. James at the lab can be like that. Initially intoxicating and appealing with his knowledge but ultimately, he slows us all down,” Adam said.
Naomi was chewing and listening. Pondering a thought.
“Are we too intoxicating? To each other, I mean?” she started.
“I want us to be clean. Clean again. I want us to absorb the best from each other. I want…” she continued, but the sudden appearance of Alina startled them both.
“Oh,” Adam said, standing up to greet her. “Hello again. You’re out on this trail today, too, huh? It’s a beautiful area,” Adam said.
“Have you seen Chiara come by this way?” Alina asked. “We were at a fork back there and I’m not sure which way she went. Did she pass by here?”
Naomi stood now and told her no, but also that they had only been sitting here a short time.
“She always goes her own way. Never waits. But she has my water in her pack,” Alina continued.
Adam walked closer to Alina with his water bottle and offered her a drink. The two were standing so close together, Naomi edged forward to claim her ground. Alina was gorgeous, no older than twenty, with thick black hair pulled back in a loose braid, she stood tall and willowy in her loose and low-fitting shorts and teensy white top. A navel ring shined in the sun. Alina took Adam’s uncapped water bottle from his hand.
“Do you mind if I put my mouth on it?” she said in a low voice.
To Naomi, it seemed like Adam stepped in closer as he answered without a moment’s hesitation and a bit too eagerly.
“Yes! Please do!”
Naomi cleared her throat, as it seemed neither of them were aware of her presence.
“Uh. I think we should head back, Adam. Alina, what about Chiara?” Naomi asked.
“She’s a billy goat. She knows this land like it was her own backyard. She’s obviously fine without me. I’ll head back with you two,” Alina said, taking another gulp from Adam’s water bottle before handing it back to him.
Naomi was deflated. Just when she was having a moment with Adam, this nymph, this little vixen had to appear to ruin everything. She picked up her pack and headed out behind them, keeping an ear to their conversation and an eye on Adam, even though she knew he didn’t even catch the suggestive innuendo of the water sharing episode. He was loyal and true to the core. So innocent. He was just being nice.
After dinner service that night, the two wandered back to their room to relax, planning on a late evening soak at the tubs. Around ten p.m., they put their robes on over their swimwear and took a slow stroll to the pools, hoping to have the place to themselves again. But it was quite a different scene. The place was bursting at the seams with young, lithe bodies soaking and prancing between pools and absolutely everyone was naked. Adam looked at Naomi.
“A little different this time, huh!”
“Do you think we should get naked, too? I mean, we’ll stand out otherwise, right?” Naomi asked.
Stripping down and leaving their gear on a bench, they sauntered over to one of the warm pools, emptier than the big middle pool and hotter tubs. Slipping in, they let the water cover them up to the neck, giggling to each other over this bold new endeavor.
“I’ve got to get into a hotter pool, Nay. You coming?” Adam asked.
“Um. Not yet. I’m uh, I’m fine right now,” she said.
He slipped out quickly and she watched him slide into one of the hotter pools where two young women were soaking. Suddenly, she realized it was Alina and Chiara! She watched intently but furtively as the conversation between them began to sound more playful, more lively. Naomi rolled her eyes and slipped under the water to fully immerse, feeling a bit perturbed by the whole thing. When she resurfaced, Zain was just stepping into her pool and smiling at her. Naomi couldn’t help but notice his tight and muscular physique as he entered the soaking tub. Who knew, she thought, underneath all those baggy clothes, Zain is quite a hunk!
“Comin’ up for air?” he laughed.
Embarrassed, Naomi wiped the water out of her eyes and nodded.
“Evening, Zain,” she said nonchalantly, aiming to cover up her discomfort with this new development.
He tipped his head back to take in the night sky, leaving her be for a moment. Lifting his head moments later to meet her gaze, he asked her how her day went. An easy exchange ensued though she caught herself thinking more than once about the fact that they were both naked! Sharing a tub together! Then she noticed Adam. The two women had left him for the big center pool and he was facing her now, his arms crossed and resting on the lip of the pool, his chin resting on them as he so obviously watched her from across the way.
“I think I’m going to join Adam over there in the hotter pool,” she spoke suddenly, cutting Zain off mid-sentence. The prospect of having to rise and show her full nakedness to Zain, though, was daunting. A detail she hadn’t thought through when she made her announcement.
“Blessings,” Zain said, pressing his palms together again as she quickly exited the pool, her arms crossed over her body as she slipped her flip-flops on and quickly made her way to the bench and threw on her robe. Walking over to Adam’s tub, she stood above him as he watched her.
“Adam. I’m pretty tired. I’m heading back to the room. Want me to grab your robe and bring it over?” she asked.
“Um. No. I’m not ready to go back yet. I guess I’ll just see you back at the cabin later,” he said.
Naomi turned on her heel and headed down the path. Away from him.
Adam opened the door to the cabin to find Naomi in bed with her book.
“Hey,” he said.
“Hey,” Naomi replied, not lowering her book to look at him.
He hadn’t even noticed until this moment which book she had brought on the trip until it was staring him in the face. And covering hers. He stood there toweling his hair dry, hoping she would pay some attention to him but she was deeply ensconced.
“The Unbearable Lightness of Being, huh?” Adam said. “That book you mentioned the day I handed you the flyer. I remember.”
Naomi didn’t budge.
“What’s it about, again?” Adam was trying desperately to coax her out.
Naomi lowered her book onto her lap.
“You’ve really never read it, Adam?” she asked.
She pushed herself up to a better sitting position, placing her bookmark into her book and setting the novel aside on the bed.
“Well. In short, I suppose it’s about the choices we make in life. Which path we choose when faced with others to choose from,” she began.
“Yeah? Tell me more,” Adam said, sitting down on the edge of the bed to face her.
“It’s about lightness versus heaviness. But in a different way from what we’ve been hearing in the workshops, I think,” she continued. “The author, Milan Kundera, talks about how life is essentially light and we apply heaviness to it in our anguish of never knowing for certain if we’ve made the right choices. We can’t live two lives at once, only one. Our doubts about what we didn’t choose always haunts us, becomes our heavy burden. The not knowing about the other path not taken, where it would have taken us, that is. Someplace better? Worse? We can’t ever know,” she said.
Adam remained rapt, asking to her to go on.
“Kundera argues, in the story, that the characters cannot find meaning in their lives because they cannot compare the path they chose to the ones they didn’t, rendering the one they chose – their actual life – as being utterly weightless, meaningless, so light it becomes unbearable. It’s ironic,” she finished.
“Wow,” Adam said. “I’m going to have to let that all sink in!”
Naomi just looked at him standing there and Adam didn’t know what more to say. There was a barrier between them. He knew she was upset about him staying at the pools but if he mentioned it, well, who knew what would happen. He tried anyway.
“Nay. I know you wanted me to come back to the cabin instead of staying at the pools,” he said.
“No. It’s ok. You do whatever makes you happy, Adam,” she said, picking up the book and pulling the bookmark out.
“Life is just a series of choices, right? I can’t take on the burden of worrying about yours. Mine are enough work,” she said, lifting the book back up to obstruct her face.
Adam stood still another minute, then padded into the bathroom and turned on the shower. He needed to wash the residue of the whole day from his body.
Dove was leading the morning workshop on Sunday and Naomi and Adam hadn’t spoken much at all. Naomi had turned out the light and rolled to her side by the time Adam emerged from his evening shower. Things felt unresolved but neither knew what to say in the morning. They had walked to the workshop space of the Great Room in silence.
“The weight of our lives bears down on us daily. The world is a heavy place. We can shift the weight from one side to the other, but unless we begin to peel away and shed what no longer serves us, we will just keep adding to the burden,” Dove said, during the Satsang that morning.
She had a different vibe from Pradeep, but the contrast was refreshing. She was a woman in her forties. Her head was shaved bald and her form was petite but strong. She sat erect and solid as a rock, yet she seemed like she would be able to lift from her seat without much ado. Naomi wondered if she would be the one leading the Monday workshop on levitation. Naomi pondered the points of the talk. Listened to what others were sharing, searching for a way into the dialogue.
She sat in silence, instead. Considered the size of her marriage presently. It had become an iceberg. The dimensions of it. The shape of it, the parts of it that were visible or hidden. To the casual viewer, all looked solid, massively bold, heroic even, firmly in place. But underneath, an invisible threat was lurking, ready to tear things apart when they weren’t paying attention. The ironic combination of her last name with Adam’s was never lost on her and made only more apparent as things had gone cold between them in recent years. Naomi Eisen. Adam Berg.
Did Adam notice it, too? she wondered. Was their time here this weekend purely frivolous? She brought her attention back to the room and the discussion.
There was a bit of a thaw, a calming effect, a lightness that the workshop had elicited. As they sat together in the dining room, away from the others, they engaged in small talk, not wanting to tempt any jealousies or hurts of the recent hours out into the open.
“Let’s go for a walk after breakfast, Naomi. Just something easy, relaxing. Want to?”
She agreed it sounded like a good idea and suggested they take the path they took the first day, the easy route. Heading outside through the lodge doors, they saw Zain approaching.
“Hey,” Naomi said. “I didn’t see you at the workshop today.”
“I had to replace some filters down at the pools. Happens every other Sunday during workshop time so we can close down for an hour or so while we do the work and not impact the guests too much,” he explained.
Adam was silent and watching them connect. Zain came in for a hug, surprising Naomi.
“I’ll see you two for the next one, though,” he said with a big smile, walking away, heading for the dining room.
Naomi looked at Adam without saying anything and the two started down the main path for their hike.
“He sure likes you,” Adam finally said, breaking the awkward silence.
“Well, I like him, too. He’s so warm. So friendly, don’t you think?”
“Sure,” was all Adam said.
The air was cooler than it had been and they were both grateful for the respite from the heat. Heading down the trail, they found a nice perch to take in the breeze and relax. Sitting side by side on a boulder, Naomi recalled the passionate kiss they had shared just yesterday when things had held a lighter vibration.
“I finished the book,” she said.
“It’s weird. The storyline in the book in contrast with the discussions and the practices in the workshops should clash, and yet it’s sort of all the same stuff, only said with different words. From different angles,” she continued.
“See, the guy in the book, Tomáš , he’s a ladies man, he has other lovers and his wife, Teraza, she knows all about it, suffers through it but she can’t do anything to change it, to change him, so she just deals with it,” Naomi said.
“Naomi…” Adam began.
“She’d rather have some of him than none of him,” she continued, becoming aware of something suddenly off with Adam.
“Naomi…” he said again.
“Oh, don’t worry, Adam. I know you didn’t realize how things sounded, how things looked with Alani yesterday…”
“I don’t care about her, Naomi,” he said.
“I know. You’re so innocent. So loyal. You see, in the book, though, he can’t help himself. That uncertainty of it all, he has to have them all so he can know meaning. Again, it’s that dichotomy and opposition of lightness and heaviness that defines the entire story and the…”
“I had an affair,” Adam blurted out, interrupting her telling of the novel.
Her mouth was still open, her last sentence, incomplete, still hanging from her mouth. She stared at him, waiting for more. She knew there would be more.
“With Alison. Three years ago. That’s why I had to stop taking her class. I had an affair, Naomi. And I’m sorry. I’ve wanted to tell you for a long time, I just…I couldn’t find the right time…” he said.
“And now? Now, was the right time, you figured?” she asked.
She stood and looked away from him and into the distance. He sat, waiting for something next to happen, though he didn’t know what. Naomi turned to face him, picked up her daypack, threw it over her right shoulder and began walking towards the trail in the direction of the lodge.
“Naomi. Wait,” Adam said, but that was all. He knew he had to let her go.
When Adam returned to the cabin, Naomi was not there. He expected so, but still felt a pang of remorse and helplessness. Was that the right time for me to tell her, after all? he wondered. Have I ruined our weekend when my intention was to clear the air. Hit the refresh button. Begin again? He threw himself onto the bed and lay on his back, staring up at the ceiling, his eyes following the woodgrain, his thoughts on his wife. Where was she, what was she thinking. What will happen now. A person could drive themselves crazy wondering about matters of the heart when things were so up in the air. He saw the book on the nightstand. The Unbearable Lightness of Being.
“Unbearable, all right. But hardly, light,” Adam said out loud.
He grabbed the book and perused the back cover. Flipping it over he opened to the first page and began to read. He was swiftly drawn in and couldn’t put it down. The parallels were too intriguing, the characters so compelling. Before he knew it, it was time for lunch service. Surely Naomi would be there. It would be awkward, yes, but he couldn’t avoid the inevitable. He splashed some water on his face and grabbed his daypack.
Entering the lodge, Chandra nodded to him and smiled from her post at the front desk. He walked through the doors of the dining room and scanned the room but did not see Naomi. Hmm. Just not here yet, I guess. Joining the queue, he started putting items on his plate, though he had noticed that each meal, he was taking smaller and smaller portions and not just on the advisement of the workshop leaders but because he was just needing less, somehow.
After making it through the line, he scanned the room again and spotted Zain sitting with a group near the center of the room. He thought twice about joining this man who seemed so enamored of his wife but found himself drawn towards him nonetheless.
Zain looked up and waved him over as he approached.
“Hey, brother. Join us,” he said.
Adam disliked how utterly cool this guy was. Unfettered. Balanced. Magnetic. All the traits he himself strived for but had to work so hard at.
He nodded hello to the small group of three young women and two young men he had not met yet.
“We were just talking about relationships,” Zain said to Adam as he was settling onto his cushion.
Oh, great, Adam thought. Just what I need to hear about from these perfect people.
“Bodhi, here, was telling us a story about his grandparents who raised him,” Zain said. “Continue, Bodhi.”
Bodhi, a fresh-faced man of twenty-two with blond hair worn in two long braids, a nose ring and thick eyebrows resting above warm brown eyes flashed a big smile at Adam.
“Yeah. Where was I. My grandparents were so full of unconditional love. No matter what I got into, and I got into a lot of stuff believe me, they just let me find my way. No rules. Just love,” Bodhi said.
“But without rules, anything could have happened to you, if you were getting into ‘stuff’ that wasn’t good for you,” Adam said.
“I suppose that could be true,” Bodhi agreed. “But. Without rules from them, I figured out my own. Well, not rules exactly. Ethics. Direction. Freedom doesn’t breed recklessness. Freedom grows trust. Courage and internal fortitude. Vision. An ability to feel right from wrong. It allows you to use all your senses to guide you, instead of your head,” he said.
The others in the group all nodded and giggled in agreement. Adam turned to Zain who was nodding and smiling at Bodhi in unbridled camaraderie.
“Zain. You seen Naomi? For lunch service, I mean,” Adam asked.
Zain simply said no and turned back to the group and asked the voluptuous young woman sitting next to Bodhi if she had something to share. She nodded and began a story about her dog. Adam was barely listening, an anxiety had overtaken him and he couldn’t relax and hear their stories over the internal, screaming volume of his own. He set his plate down and stood.
“Excuse me, folks, I need to, uh…” he said, picking up his plate and heading quickly towards the exit. He dropped his plate at the dining station and when he was almost through the doors, he paused and turned back to look across the room once more to look for Naomi. Zain was staring right at him. He had been watching Adam the whole time as he crossed the room. Taking flight from some unseen threat.
Returning to the cabin in hopes of finding Naomi there, Adam turned the key slowly, feeling his heart pounding in his throat. But she wasn’t there. Not in the bedroom. Not in the bathroom. Not there. Where is she, he wondered. Did she leave the retreat center? How would she have. Why would she have? Then he remembered the heavy baggage he had unloaded on her with his confession and thought it was a good possibility she had left. He rushed back to the lodge and beelined to Chandra.
She beamed her ray of light upon him as he got closer and before she could say a word, he blurted out his barrage of questions.
“Hi, Chandra. Hi. Listen, is there a bus service or any transportation back to the town from here? I mean, if one were to need it, that is,” he said, not wishing to give anything away to her.
“Are you ok? Did your car break down or something?” she asked softly, sensing his distress.
“I’m fine. Yes. Everything is ok. Um, just checking for a friend, who might, uh, want to come here and not, uh, not want to drive, I mean. They, um, I was telling them what a great time we were having here, and uh…well, is there? Transportation?” Adam stumbled.
“Yes, Adam. There is a shuttle that comes every morning at eleven to go back into town. And from town, one departs at four to bring guests here. I can give you the brochure for your friends,” she said, reaching under her desk and sliding it across the counter to Adam. He had been calculating in his head what time he and Naomi had been on their hike, how much time it would have taken her to hike back, get the information and get on the bus. She could have made it, yeah. She could have taken that eleven a.m. bus, he thought.
“I already gave your wife this information earlier, though. She must have forgotten to tell you,” Chandra said, and smiled again.
Hiding his alarm, he thanked Chandra and went out onto the front porch of the lodge, wondering what to do next. Searching the sky for an answer.
It was time for the afternoon workshop and Adam had been caught in a quandary about what to do, to attend or not to attend. He had been calling Naomi’s cell, leaving messages and pacing the cabin, wandering the grounds, checking the hot pools, everything he could think of doing. Her suitcase was still in the cabin but that meant nothing. It would be a point well taken if she had left her baggage behind for him to deal with. At least Chandra had seen her earlier, so she made it back from the hike ok.
He sat down on the bed and tried to clear his head of the clutter and chaos. He remembered a meditation practice Alison had taught him years ago. Terrible I should be referencing her right now, he thought for a second, but then reclined on the bed, closed his eyes and placed one hand on the center of his chest and one on his belly. Breathing slowly and deeply, he searched for the connection between his heart and his gut feeling.
The roiling of emotions began to subside and he was feeling calmer. Calm enough to fall into a brief but restful state of half-sleep. When his eyes opened again, he picked up his cell phone and noted that he had just five minutes to get to the workshop space in time for the afternoon session. Without another thought, he gathered up his things and headed out the door, turning the key slowly in the lock.
Adam entered the Great Room. There she was. In the front row, sitting erect on her cushion, eyes closed in meditation, her hair pulled up in a tousled bun resting lightly atop her head, wispy, red tendrils loosely framing her face. The space was almost full and he would have to find a space in the back of the room. He arranged his cushion and sat down, releasing a deep exhale of relief. Of sadness and regret. He inhaled deeply and exhaled again. Letting go of desperation. Inhaled again. Exhaled. Releasing fear. He closed his eyes and fell in deeper. Inhaling. Exhaling resentment. Inhaling. Exhaling.
Inhaling Love. Exhaling. Inhaling Light. Exhaling.
“This will be our last full day, everyone,” Dove announced at the end of the afternoon workshop. “Tomorrow, we meet at seven a.m. for our final two-hour workshop. And the big event – Levitation Practice!”
The crowd clapped lightly, some snapped. Others giggled with excitement.
“Please do not eat before coming. As always, dress in loose, comfortable clothing and leave behind heavy thoughts and worries, please. Pradeep and I will both be here. See you then!” and she placed her palms together and bowed.
Adam sat watching Naomi quickly get up and leave the room. She didn’t even look around to see if he was there, she was in her own orbit. Adam wondered if he would see her for the next meal and what could possibly take place in front of a large dining hall full of people. He opened his water bottle and took some small sips, still sitting, not ready to move from his peaceful perch. Alina was suddenly there, squatting down where he sat.
“Hi! Want to walk to the dining room together?” she asked, smiling brightly at Adam.
“Uh. Maybe I can just see you there? I’m not quite ready to go,” he said.
Alina cheerfully said ok and was on her way. Adam gazed up at the altar, watching Dove and Pradeep chatting together. He watched the guests filtering out of the room, some moving slowly. Solo. Others engaged in joyful exchange as they sauntered off together to dinner. Adam wondered why they were here for this weekend. What sort of baggage were they letting loose of? What sort of change were they seeking in their lives?
He realized he and Naomi had not connected with anyone else in the group and he figured it was his last chance to do so. Standing finally, the last person in the room, Pradeep and Dove slowly turned towards him from the altar and pressed their hands together and nodded. He returned the gesture and slowly walked towards the door.
When he got to the dining hall, he immediately spotted Naomi sitting with Zain and four others. Naomi was sitting next to Alina and they were laughing together over something, like old friends. He felt on the outside of the circle suddenly, awkward. Once he filled his plate, he decided to join another group of people that he recognized from the workshop. Asking permission to join them, he set down his cushion and introduced himself. He posed the question he had wondered back at the hall, what were they all doing here?
He listened to their varied responses, from first timers to regulars.
“I come here every year for this workshop, it’s like spring cleaning,” a woman in her late 60s said.
Two young women, sisters, had come “to learn to fly.” A middle-aged man named Jack was speaking now.
“I came because I had to. To lose the weight,” he said as though it was a Weight-Watchers diet program they were attending.
“I lost my wife to Cancer last year,” he continued. “The burden of my grief has been unbearable,” he said. “I heard great things about this from friends and I had to come. How about you, Adam? Why are you here?”
Adam blinked. He wasn’t sure how much he should reveal. He decided to be open with his dilemma as Jack had been.
“I cheated on my wife. Our marriage has been in a downward slide ever since. I had to come, too,” he said, turning directly to the man who had lost his wife. “I’m so sorry. That must seem terrible to you. But it’s the truth. And I’m regretful. And sad. And don’t know how to make it right. Not yet anyhow. The burden has been so heavy, the knowing, the guilt.”
Adam felt a purging of negative energy dissolve and exit his body.
“Does your wife know,” the older woman asked.
“Yes. I told her this morning,” and the group released a collective acknowledgement in hushed sounds and nods.
“The truth shall set you free!” a zaftig-looking woman named Ruth sitting next to Jack said, jubilantly waving her arms in the air.
“I don’t know if it will, it might be setting her free. From me,” Adam said, looking over to where Naomi was sitting. Zain was staring his way again. What is up with that guy, Adam wondered.
Jack was tapping Adam on the knee, comforting him.
“You’ll find the key to unlock everything. Don’t worry,” he said.
The conversation turned to levitation. Who had done it, who hoped to do it, who didn’t care if that part even happened. It was a lively banter and Adam got swept up into it and had a joyful interaction with the group. When he looked over to find Naomi, the group was still there but Naomi was gone. And Zain was no longer there, either.
Adam walked slowly back to the cabin and was not surprised to find it empty again. The air had become cloudy, his spirit, too. He sat for a bit on the edge of the bed considering things, thinking over all that he had been hearing in the workshops, the conversations with others, the book. His life. He stripped down and put on his robe and flip flops, locked the cabin and made his way to the pools. Perfect evening for it, he thought.
When he got there, his heart dropped into his gut. There was Naomi sitting on the edge of one of the smaller pools talking with Zain who was up to his neck in steaming water, looking up at her, imparting something deep and significant. They didn’t even notice him but there was no way he was going to penetrate that scenario. He removed his robe and slipped into one of the pools on the opposite side of the center pool. To ease my way in, he told himself, but really to gain a good vantage point in which to watch them.
He was struck with how Naomi had become so comfortable in her nakedness now. How uninhibited she had become. He watched her slip back into the water and luxuriate, then climb out to cool down for a bit, exposing herself openly to Zain and anyone else nearby.
The pools were slowly filling up with more guests and his anonymity remained intact as he rested his head on his arms on the edge of his tub, spying on them, until an older couple joined him in his pool, disrupting his silent observation. Naomi and Zain were emerging from their private tub and joining others in the big middle pool, now. Maybe that was his cue to safely integrate, make it clear to her that he was aware of her and what she was doing. Yes. The Goldilocks pool. That’s where he needed to go. To the center. The pool most palatable to most people. To the place that would be just right. Safe.
Adam stepped down into the pool directly opposite Naomi and Zain. They both looked over at him as he slid deeper into the water, Zain nodding and smiling. Naomi looked at him with a blank face then slowly immersed all the way under, emerging slowly and wiping her eyes clean of him, not meeting Adam’s gaze. Adam tipped his head back to rest it on the ledge of the pool, taking in the moving cloud formations overhead. The sky seemed turbulent, inclement, volatile. Bleak. He closed his eyes and relaxed into the healing soak, wishing it all away. Letting his thoughts drift. Ebb and flow.
Adam felt drops of rain on his face and blinked his eyes open. Looking to where Naomi was, he noticed both she and Zain were no longer in the pool. Guests were gathering up their things and while some stayed put, embracing the change in weather, fully experiencing the refreshing quality of rain, most were hustling off down the path back towards the lodge and cabins. Adam felt in limbo. Eager to feel it all, he stayed in the pool absorbing the contrast of hot water and cool breeze, wetness filling his face and hair, he knew shelter was near enough if need be.
A flash of lightning followed by a crack of thunder quickened his heart. The remaining soakers were beginning to assemble under the eaves of the changing area plotting their escape from the elements. Adam noticed he was the only one still in a pool. He quickly climbed out and grabbed his robe and threw it on.
The rain was becoming heavier, steadier, more driving, the breeze picking up, too. Adam shoved his flip-flops into his daypack’s outer pocket and headed for the trail barefoot, heading towards the cabin as others were skipping and running past him to escape the downpour. Just before he got to the cabin, he picked up his pace to a trot arriving at the door just as Naomi came running up behind him, laughing.
“Wow, where did this rain come from!” she said, as they found themselves at the door together.
“You got the key?” she asked with wide eyes.
“Yes, just getting it,” he said, pulling it from the pocket of his robe, putting it into the lock and opening the door. “After you,” he said, with a motion of his hand.
Naomi ran in, dropped her robe in the middle of the floor and scurried into the bathroom. Adam could hear the shower coming on, the sound of the curtain being pulled back. He pictured her under the pulse of the falling warm water as it caressed her face and body, washing her clean. When she came back into the bedroom, he was still standing in the middle of the room.
“Next,” she said, walking past him to get to the clothes closet.
She dropped the towel on the floor and began to dress. Adam turned to go into the bathroom and turned the shower on. When he came back out and into the room, she was gone. He dressed slowly. He sat. He felt the pit of his stomach. He had no clue what he should do or think. The door suddenly opened and there was Naomi, holding in her hand a beverage tray with two cups resting snugly in it. She tossed her key onto the dresser and closed the door.
“Here. I brought you a chai. It seemed like the perfect thing!” she said, with a smile.
Adam stood, surprise and relief all over his face.
“Thanks. That was thoughtful,” he said, taking one of the cups from the tray.
“I know. That’s because I am thoughtful,” she said, removing the other cup and setting the empty tray on the dresser.
“Ok. Let’s talk,” she said, walking past him, sitting on the bed and patting the space next to her.
Adam, stunned and eager, sat right down and waited. He didn’t know if he should talk or not. Maybe she was tired of his words, tired of him. Maybe she had an important decree. A decision to share. He just didn’t know. So. He waited.
“We have one more day here so we better make the most of it, don’t you think?” she started. Adam nodded.
“We don’t have to talk about everything right now. But I do have something to say. Adam. I knew you had the affair. And I knew it was Alison. I’ve just been waiting for you to man-up and tell me. Clear the air. Attempt to iron things out. I know why you had the affair, too. I understood it, with everything that was happening…or not happening between us. But it still broke my heart,” she said. “What I don’t understand is why you decided to tell me here. Now.”
A thunder clap and a flash of lightning filled the sky outside their window.
“I don’t know either,” Adam said. “Not exactly, anyway. I think it just felt like it was time. Part of lightening the load. Getting rid of excess baggage. I don’t know. All the stuff they keep yammering to us about here. I’m sorry about it. All of it,” he said.
“Adam. I had an affair, too,” she said. “What’s weird is. Well, you didn’t ever know it, did you?”
Adam froze. Ok, he thought. Let me just…let me just take a breath. Think before acting. No need to manhandle this thing, wrench it into some messed up disfigured shape. I think I can do this, just… He stood. He paced across the floor then came back and sat down.
“No. I never knew that. Who…no, wait. Don’t tell me. Unless you want to. That’s your choice. I can handle it. No. Maybe I can’t. Naomi, when? I mean, what were we doing? What are we doing?” He was rambling.
“Take a breath, Adam. Relax. It’s ok. We love each other, right?”
It was pouring outside and the sound of the rain on the roof of their cabin was steady and loud.
Adam nodded. “Yes. Of course. Of course, we do. I know I do. I love you, Naomi.” He reached to move a strand of red hair off her face, putting it in place lightly behind her left ear, leaving his hand on her cheek.
“What can I do, what can we do to make this right again, Nay? Give me the key to your heart. I can’t find it on my own,” he said.
She touched his hand that was resting on her face, guided it to the center of her chest, resting her hand over the top of his.
“Adam. You don’t need a key. There is a quick-release lever, right here. It’s been here the whole time. You just forgot,” Naomi said.
The two burst into laughter. Adam took both her hands into his, kissing them, then kissing her face, reaching in for a deep embrace. Still laughing, the two fell back on the bed onto their backs, looking up at the ceiling.
“There are two hundred and forty-seven lines in the woodgrain up there,” he said.
“Two hundred and fifty-three,” Naomi said. “I counted it twice.”
And they burst into laughter again.
The couple walked hand-in-hand to the final workshop under a bright blue morning sky, entering the Great Room for the final time. They recognized the special moment before them, felt the vibration of anticipation in the air as guests gathered for the big event. To Adam and Naomi, the big event had already happened. The honesty. The sharing. The acceptance. The love and commitment reigniting in them. The clearing of the air around them. The rain washing the darkness away.
They found a spot in the middle of the room, seeking to be supported by the energy around them. Buoyed, perhaps. In their room the night before, Naomi had expressed her doubt to Adam that anything much would happen in the levitation workshop. They even placed bets as to who was most likely to succeed at “catching air”. Alina, for sure, Naomi had wagered, calling her spacy and flighty. A perfect energy for levitation.
A low hum filled the room. A chanting of OM had begun and was building on its own momentum as more people joined in. Pradeep and Dove, who had been largely invisible to them other than during the workshops, were presiding as usual, both dressed in all-white attire, sitting in lotus position on a blue rug in the center of the altar. The red rug of previous days had been changed out specially for today. The lights were dim, the room was cooled to a perfect temperature.
The setting was made for defying gravity. The chanting slowly ebbed into a brilliant silence. Meditation had begun.
There would be no satsang today. All the words had been spoken in the previous days to prepare them. The entire focus would be on meditation and becoming so devoid of heaviness as to be rendered ethereal. Sheer. Imponderous. They would become mere threads of gossamer.
Before she knew it, Naomi heard the sounding of the gong. Three times. To bring them back to the present moment and place. She slowly opened her eyes and caught a glimpse of Zain as he was landing back in place. Her mouth opened in disbelief. She turned to Adam and he mouthed the words, I saw it. He reached over for her hand, resting his on top of hers just above her knee.
Dove began to speak softly as the room slowly became a-titter in whispers and sighs, giggles and gasps and bodies shifting on cushions, water bottles being opened. Pradeep spoke then, thanking the guests for their sacred participation and exalting all for their dedication and faith in the teachings. He closed by appealing to everyone to remain lighthearted and full of sweetness and hope. To find the place and purpose for weightiness for matters that required it but placed in proper balance with the time and place for true lightness of being. Adam turned to Naomi.
“I vow to do all of those things. To respect the weight of our bond. To see the light in you and in myself. Reflecting and reverberating,” he said.
“Wow. You’re ready to take your seat on the altar with Pradeep and Dove, I think,” as she winked at him and they shared a sweet laugh together.
“Hey, let’s find Zain. I have to ask him how he…” she started, but as they both scanned the room. He was nowhere in sight.
Arriving for their last meal at the retreat center, the two continued to look for Zain. But he wasn’t in the dining room.
“Funny. I noticed a few other people lifting off their seats, this heavy-set woman Ruth who I met the other day….and I don’t see any of them here either,” Adam said.
“You did?” Naomi asked. “Weren’t your eyes closed?”
“I admit. I sort of cheated. I wanted to see if anyone was actually levitating. That sort of became more important to me about half-way through. It’s hard to sit in meditation that long, isn’t it?” Adam said.
“I dunno. I kind of like it,” she said, as she handed Adam her plate and grabbed two cushions, walked to the center of the room and set them down. The two took their seats and settled in to eat.
“I’m kind of surprised you cheated, Adam. This was your idea, after all. Didn’t you want to at least go the whole distance?”
“I suppose I should have. I kind of feel like levity was already accomplished,” he said, looking deeply into her eyes. “You know what I mean? The Bearable Lightness of Being has already been found and restored.”
“Sure. But. Well, I want to share something with you. I didn’t lift off the floor or anything. But I definitely felt something lift. I mean, like something sort of whooshed out of me, I can’t really explain it. Like a gentle wind brushed softly across me and into me then out of me all at once. There was a lot of intense energy in that room that’s for sure!” she said.
“Wow, Nay. That’s so cool. I guess I’m just not quite that open. Maybe you can teach me,” he said, leaning in for a kiss on her lips.
As he leaned back onto his cushion, he caught a glimpse of Jack, the man who had lost his wife to Cancer, looking at him from across the room, an ear to ear smile on his face. He pressed his palms together and raising them, gave Adam a slight bow. Adam nodded back.
“Let’s go for one last hike together, Naomi, want to?” Adam asked back at the cabin as they packed their things.
The two walked down the main pathway.
“We haven’t taken the middle path yet, let’s check it out,” Naomi said.
Adam laughed. “Funny. My yoga teacher always says to walk the middle path.”
The two ambled in silence through the red rock formations and into the canyon. It was a slow and easy descent followed by a gentle climb leading to an overhang of rock ledges with stunning views. A perfectly balanced hike. They found a perch to take it all in, soak in the expansive nature of this place.
“I still have the rest of that joint. Wanna give it another go?” Adam asked.
“Nah. I’m good. You?”
“Yeah, I’m perfect. No need,” he said.
“Naomi. I’m so sorry. I should have told you a long time ago about the affair. I shouldn’t have even done it, what am I saying…I just…” Adam started.
“Look. It happened. For whatever reason. I don’t want to carry that for you. It’s way too heavy. I’m not Teraza. In the book?” she said.
“I read the book. While you weren’t around,” he said.
“You read the book? The whole book?” Naomi asked.
“Yep. Cover to cover. And I know you were thinking, I was even thinking…that I am Tomáš and I…”
Naomi burst into laughter.
“You aren’t Tomáš! Oh, Adam, that is ridiculous!” she said. “I never once thought of you that way while I was reading it. I was thinking about the broader ideas in the book, how they contrasted with what we’ve been doing here. How they relate to my life. Gee. Let yourself off the hook, dude!”
“Ok. Well, ok. That makes me feel better,” he said. He took a big swallow from his water bottle.
Silence enveloped them again as they both looked out at the wide landscape of life in front of them. Going forward. The big picture. Feeling small in the scheme of things but part of it all, just the same.
“Why do you suppose we couldn’t levitate?” Adam asked.
“I dunno,” Naomi said. “Or maybe I do know. I mean, it’s weird doing this levitation thing here. Letting go of heaviness, trying to be light as a feather. Airy,” she said.
“Look around,” she continued, lifting her arms up for emphasis.
“This place is solid rock. It’s full of weight. Heavy, heavy weight. I know it’s supposed to be a spiritual vortex and all, but it seems to me. Well. It seems like this place is suggesting that we should be trying to become more grounded, more down to earth in our lives, not trying to get off the ground,” she said, laughing.
Adam laughed, too.
“I see what ya mean,” he said.
“Adam. Let’s not be apologetic to each other. Let’s just accept things for what they were and move on. Be at peace with everything. Do the right thing for each other. For us. I don’t want to float through life with you, Adam. I want to walk the middle path with you. Every day. Find our common ground. Stand solid and sure as red rock looking into the canyon depths of possibility. I don’t need to fly. Not yet, anyway,” she said, smiling at him. Beaming, really. Full of light.
The hike back was slow and serene, mostly silent as Adam and Naomi let it all sink in. So much had happened in the past few days. It was a lot to absorb and process. A calm had come over them both and they knew it. They had vowed to each other many things as they sat overlooking the canyon before pressing their palms together and bowing into it, turning to bow to each other, sealing it with a kiss. And of course, a lighthearted laugh.
They went to the lodge to drop off their keys and bid farewell to Chandra and others milling about who they had connected with if even just briefly. Naomi inquired about Zain but Chandra hadn’t seen him. She felt bad about leaving without saying goodbye to him but it was time to get going so they would have plenty of time to get to the airport .
At the car, Adam closed the trunk after putting their luggage away and Zain came into view, walking towards them, smiling brightly.
“Nay, look,” he said.
Looking up from her phone, she yelled out to Zain.
“Hey! I’m so glad we got to see you before we left!” she said.
As he approached them, he pressed his palms together.
“My friends, I wouldn’t miss seeing you one more time!” Zain said.
“You all set? Ready to head back to the “real” world,” he said, releasing a hearty laugh.
The threesome chatted a bit until Naomi had to ask the question that had been on her mind all morning.
“Zain. How do you do it? I saw you. In the workshop, as I was opening my eyes at the end, I saw you. You were in the air, coming down, alighting back onto your cushion. I’m so blown away by that!” she said.
Zain just smiled a knowing smile and leaned in to hug her. Then placed his hand on Adam’s back as he met her gaze again. Silently. He started nodding Yes but said nothing. For what seemed like a distilled and endless, moment in time. Suspended in air.
Then he spoke.
“We are just energy, my friends. The deflection of sound waves passing obliquely from one medium into another. Bending our light rays in Earth’s atmosphere into and out of each other. That’s all. All there is to it,” he said.
He leaned in for a deep hug with Adam, then a longer one with Naomi, whispering “Blessings” into her ear, kissing her on the cheek. Then Zain turned on his heel and headed towards the lodge.
They watched him walk away, and as he looked back over his shoulder at them one last time, he waved and yelled to them.
“Happy journey!” and disappeared through the door.
Adam and Naomi looked at each other. Adam shrugged his shoulders and the two laughed together and climbed into the car. Naomi looked back at the wrenched seat cushions and said,
“It doesn’t look that bad.”
Adam rolled his eyes and put the key into the ignition. As they started to roll slowly down the dirt road leading back into town, Adam asked Naomi to find something good on the radio.
“Oh. Oh. I love this song, keep it there,” he said.
“Breeze driftin’ on by. You know how I feel,” Adam sang, looking over at Naomi.
Nina Simone was crooning away in her deep and earthy tones. It was a classic tune that defined their sentiments precisely. They were both feeling it. Feeling Good. Naomi began to sing along with Adam to the refrain. Clear as a bell. Light as a feather. Solid as a rock.
“It’s a new dawn. It’s a new day. It’s a new life!”
“And I’m feeling good.”
© 2020, Mary Corbin
Defying Gravity is from the “Geometry” collection. Featured artwork: “Defying Gravity” – painting by Mary Corbin. No reprints without permission.